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Lufa Farms: The Rooftop Greenhouse That Started It All

Lufa Farms is the original rooftop hydroponics garden. Lufa Farms is the original rooftop hydroponics garden.

 

Everyone is talking about Gotham Greens, a team of groundbreaking urban farmers taking New York's rooftops by storm. Business is already booming thanks to a 15,000-square-foot greenhouse in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, which made waves in the city's grassroots and farm-to-table community.

Although New York marked the starting point for Gotham Greens, the origins of commercial rooftop hydroponics in North America lie elsewhere. A story of business smarts, persistence, and an unused space turned into a hydroponic, food-producing mecca, Gotham Greens’ predecessor hails from north of the border.

The first commercial rooftop greenhouse in the world was Lufa Farms, a subscription-based food delivery service operating out of the Ahuntsic-Cartierville neighborhood in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Lufa Farms’ success centers on a concept that is both simple and accessible to consumers: Grow food where people live and grow it more sustainably.


A young, up and coming entrepreneur named Mohamed Hage founded the company in 2009, although the idea of putting a commercial-scale greenhouse operation on top of a building inspired Hage for years before. It took him five years alone to find a site suitable to house such an undertaking and many months after to convince the city of Montreal and the building's owner to permit its construction.

When the project was given a green light, Hage assembled a team of industry professionals to get his idea off the ground. Alongside a greenhouse engineer, internationally renowned horticulturist, nutritional scientist, McGill plant science professor, and a marketing consultant, Hage designed a 31,000-square-foot glass-enclosed hydroponic facility to sit on top of what would become Lufa Farm's headquarters. Two years and two million dollars later, the company opened to the public in 2011, earning them first place in Commerce + Creativity Montreal's "Emerging Entrepreneurs Contest" and a name among Urban Times’ "15 Startups That Improve our World".

Lufa Farms’ success centers on a concept that is both simple and accessible to consumers: "Grow food where people live and grow it more sustainably." On their website, the company's "Ecological Distribution Model" explains, "We harvest in the morning, complement our baskets with treasures from local farms and artisans, and deliver to pick-up points around the city by afternoon. From farm to plate in a few hours, with nothing wasted."

It's a way of business that is clearly resonating with customers. Lufa Farms harvests nearly 1,500 pounds of vegetables, herbs, and leafy greens per day and delivers 2,500 of their fresh food baskets per week. Business has been so good, in fact, that Lufa Farms is expanding. Bolstered by $4.5 million in equity financing, Hage plans to opene another facility in Laval, a suburb of Montreal and the third largest municipality in Quebec. The new greenhouse will take Lufa Farms to a new level and give the company an additional 43,000 square feet of growing space and 3,000 pounds of food to harvest per day.

With an eco-friendly operation and supreme business model, Lufa Farms has enough positive drive to last a lifetime. Montreal may have been the first city in North America to savor the perks of having rooftop grown produce on a commercial scale, but Lufa Farms was just the beginning.  

© Copyright RosebudMag.com, 2013



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Lufa Farms was the first operation of its kind.

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